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KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 — The prosecution proffered criminal breach of trust charges against Datuk Seri Najib Razak today, after his highly-anticipated arrest yesterday over former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.
The charges were read out to Najib in a packed courtroom in Kuala Lumpur before Sessions Court judge Datuk Zainal Abidin Kamarudin.
In the prosecution initiated about two months after Najib’s Barisan Nasional coalition lost federal power, new Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas is the lead prosecutor.
The prosecution put up three charges of criminal breach of trust over RM42 million from SRC International and another charge of power abuse over the same matter.
Criminal charges are usually read out to an accused person, who will then either plead guilty or claim trial by pleading otherwise.
No plea was entered at the Sessions Court by the former prime minister, as the prosecution had applied for the two cases to be transferred to the High Court.
The Sessions Court judge allowed the transfer, and Najib pleaded not guilty to all the charges at the High Court.
Yesterday, newswire Bernama reported that Najib is expected to be charged with over 10 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to SRC International.
Today, Najib was only charged in two cases, with the first case involving three counts of criminal breach of trust that he was alleged of committing as the then prime minister, finance minister and emeritus adviser of SRC International while being entrusted with the company's funds totalling RM4 billion.
Najib was accused of committing criminal breach of trust of RM27 million under the first count and of RM5 million under the second count during the December 24, 2014 and December 29, 2014 period.
The third count of criminal breach of trust involves RM10 million and was said to have been committed during the February 10, 2015 to March 2, 2015 period. All three counts were alleged to have been committed at AmIslamic Bank Berhad.
The total amount from the three counts combined come up to RM42 million, an amount previously alleged as having been channelled from SRC International into Najib's accounts.
Under Section 409 of the Penal Code, which covers the offence of criminal breach of trust by a public servant over property he is entrusted with or have control over, the penalty is a jail term of between two years and 20 years and whipping and fine.
As for the second case involving a corruption offence, Najib was charged with a single count of using his position as the then prime minister and finance during the August 17, 2011-February 8, 2012 period for his own gratification amounting to the same RM42 million, by allegedly being involved in the Malaysian government's decision to give a guarantee for a RM4 billion loan from the civil servants' pension fund known as Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) to SRC International.
The abuse charge was made under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 and is punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of at least five times the sum involved, upon conviction.
Thomas led a 12-man prosecution team that had 11 deputy public prosecutors, while prominent lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had a team of six other lawyers.
Lawyer Datuk K. Kumaraendran and another lawyer held a watching brief on behalf of their client Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who is the wife of Najib and was not present in court.
Najib's family members that were spotted inside the courtroom are his sons Mohd Nazifuddin, Norashman, Mohd Nizar and the latter's wife Nor Sharmila Shaheen. Daughter Nooryana Najwa and her Kazakh husband were also seen.
The government’s special taskforce for the 1MDB scandal yesterday announced that Najib was arrested at his private residence at 2.35pm in relation to former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd and would be charged this morning in Kuala Lumpur.
On July 2, 2015, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that investigators probing state investment firm 1MDB had found US$681 million (RM2.6 billion) deposited in Najib’s personal bank accounts just before the 13th general election, with RM42 million believed to have originated from SRC International.
In 2016, then-AG Tan Sri Apandi Ali cleared Najib of wrongdoing, claiming that the RM2.6 billion was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family and that Najib had alleged returned US$620 million to the Saudi royalty in August 2013.
Apandi had then said he had also found Najib committed no wrongdoing over the RM42 million deposited by SRC International into Najib’s bank account.